After 10 seasons patrolling the biggest part of the field for the Rays, Kiermaier is in his first season with the rival Blue Jays, having signed a one-year, $9 million contract this winter. He earned a reputation as one of the premier defensive players in the league during his time in Tampa Bay, winning the Gold Glove in 2015, ’16 and ’19. In ’15, he also won the Platinum Glove award, which goes to the best defensive player at any position in each league.
It’s been more of the same this season for Kiermaier, who has already made a litany of impressive catches. The latest came in the second inning of Toronto’s win over the Brewers on Thursday afternoon. Milwaukee’s Andruw Monasterio hit a ball deep into the right-center field gap that appeared destined for an extra-base hit. But Kiermaier had other ideas.
KEVIN KIERMAIER, WHAT A CATCH 😱 pic.twitter.com/FpolrQb5iA— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 1, 2023
Kiermaier’s full-extension diving grab could very well end up being the most impressive defensive play of the season. Statcast gave him just a 15% chance of making the catch. It required him to cover 92 feet in 4.7 seconds. To do so, he reached a top speed of 30.4 feet per second. That’s elite speed. Only two players in the majors this season (Bobby Witt Jr. and Bubba Thompson) have an average sprint speed that fast. Kiermaier hasn’t reached 30 feet per second on the basepaths this season, either. Not bad for a guy who’s 33 years old.
Kiermaier is known primarily for his glove but he’s also having the best offensive season of his career. His .863 OPS is 75 points higher than his best previous season and 141 points higher than his career average.